Every once in a while someone asks me a really good question that gets me thinking deeply about life. However, more often it is some small event or interaction that prompts me to ponder. Recently, I spent a couple of days with our Grade 8 students at Camp Kawkawa, and I experienced one of those deep think inspirations.
I was leading a workshop on canoeing and as I was waxing eloquently on the need for a throw rope and bail bucket in every canoe, I happened to notice one student who was completely ignoring me. He was, instead, engrossed by the incredible number of tadpoles in the water under and around the dock we were standing on. When I tried to redirect the student’s attention, his response was, “There must be millions of them!” My lesson was derailed. Instantly, every eye was turned to the swirling mass of black tadpoles.
Eventually the entire group tired of the tadpoles and enjoyed their time paddling canoes and splashing each other. But, the one young fellow who had expressed such awe about the number of tadpoles sought me out later to ask a question that he had obviously been rolling over in his mind for some time. His question was simple, but it forced me to ask some bigger questions as I tried to give a satisfactory answer. He asked me why God made so many tadpoles, because that meant that most of them must die. He recognized that we would be overrun with toads (we were informed by camp staff that these tadpoles were hatched from eggs laid by toads, not frogs) if the majority of them did not die as tadpoles.
To his credit, the same student said, “I know that the tadpoles are food for other animals.” But, that just led him, and I, to the bigger question of, “Why did God make the world so that some things have to die, so that other things can live?” Why indeed? We recognize that the answer lies with the effects of human sin in the world. However, that really does not sit well in the black and white world of Grade 8 fairness; what did the tadpole do to deserve this?
I wish I could say that I took advantage of this teachable moment to expound on the biblical truths of creation groaning and the depravity of human-kind. Alas, I did not. Instead, we spent more time in the canoes and went for a good paddle up the lake and back. Perhaps I could have preached for a bit, but I think the joy of the ensuing water fight honestly made for a more memorable moment.